Friday, November 20, 2009
It's evening. My husband is upstairs. He's fighting a cold. I sit at my desk and glance across the room. I see a tri colored glass vase. Its beauty fills me. I glance to the right and feel warm when I see the clothes on the drying rack.
There's something so sweet about the night. My home is warm. It's clean. Silent. Flowers and plants take their place in this living collage. But I know the beauty and peace are not from my home or the vase or the drying clothes. Sitting in the sweetness of life, I just happen to be in this home, but the sweetness is always here. It is life itself.
Being awake to life is the only answer. It doesn't matter the question. Being awake is the only answer. The more I let go. The more I keep my mind in a relaxed non driven state - the more I experience my emotions as sensations- the sweeter the spot. The spot is here and now.
The picture is me in an interesting spot. I'm walking on the equator in Ecuador. I've traveled the world only to find the sweet spot is here. Whether it's the here in Thailand or the here in my office, it's here and I'm so glad I'm here.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I am aware that some of the posts look weird. These are ones I've taken from Word and done a cut and paste. Who wants to retype an article into a blog box? I rework the article and when I've made corrections and reformatted some things, I press publish icon. That's when it gets weird. I've worked on all kinds of fixes, those I've thought of, those my friends thought of, and those the blog problems page recommend. These fixes do not work. Some of the fixes work for a while but they stop working.
Is a blog a reflection of life? Life has rules but they are merely suggestions. Once you find out how things are, either the things change or the how they are changes. We get back to the one life constant. "Change."
The course I would not take in high school was typing. I thought if I learned to type, I would have to be a secretary. That was one of three jobs available to women when I was young. You were a teacher, a secretary, or a wife. I chose wife, hobbled into sales but really ended up as a sales secretary. I am my own hunt and peck secretary. Gee I wish my secretary could type. Then she could easily retype the article from Word into the blog box and when I hit publish, the blog would be correctly formatted. I could press the publish icon and have a uniform font size and the words wouldn't go off in their own direction.
Now to top that off, I'm getting several phone calls daily for a toll free number that is one digit off from my toll free number. It's just started happening, so I'm going to guess it's a new number. It's for some kind of drug plan for an RX partner. I just talked to Jane from Michigan who was happy to give me the scoop. She called her insurance company and I answered. I was really good, no existential lecture. The number to dial is 800-711- 4550 and my number is 800-711-4580. One call is not a problem, but if I get several calls a day every day, I get to pay a nice little sum for all these misdialed calls.
I think this serves me right for thinking about receiving several business calls a day. I receive the calls but my mental pondering was not as succinct as it might have been; I now receive business calls for someone else. If you don't know what I'm talking about - here's a short lesson. Here I go with my lesson - now I'm into the third choice - teacher.
I believe that what you think about, you bring about. When I think hateful thoughts - I draw hate to me. When I think in peaceful thoughts, I draw peaceful circumstances into my life.
So what I've learned from all this is that if I maintain a peaceful demeanor than I will not get upset over blog improprieties, strange callers that I pay to call me or changes in life. When I do this I find that my life can be easier and easier.
And just to stay weird, the picture was taken in a German restaurant in Southern India. I can still remember that cake. One of the best I've ever had. Food again. It's a family thing. You know my family - the human family.
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One perfect spring day, I loaded my car and headed for a spiritual gahtering in Ohio. It was a ten-hour drive from Memphis.
Mystical journeys often come with hurdles; mine came in the form of a flat tire. Fortunately when my tire gave way, I was close to an auto shop. The owner was straight with me, “Little lady, your tire cannot be fixed and your other tire is about to go. You need two new tires.” The tires were rough. Only a month away from the end of my car lease, I had not wanted to buy new tires. He was right. The car needed new tires, which were not in stock, so I had to wait for their delivery. This was going to take a while.
Undaunted by the delay, I took stock of my surroundings. The shop was orderly and everything sparkled. Rather than read a magazine, I met the owners and workers, explored, and asked questions. The shop opened its doors two weeks ago. This place was special. It was someone’s dream come true.
We talked of business and babies and serving others. They glowed with a sense of pride. It felt as if I was talking to our countries founding fathers. Each worker had a story, a family and big dreams.
When I left, six men stood waving and wishing me luck, “Come back, don’t forget us.” My interest in them flowed back to me. I felt inspired, cherished, and loved. Life incorporated the inconvenience and made it an integral part of my journey. What a trip.
Ordinary sacred moments continue to outshine my planned special events. The Ohio spiritual gathering was expansive. I walked on fire, and studied with indigenous elders, but when people asked about my trip, I answered “Well, I had a flat tire.”
Originally Published in The Science of Mind Magazine June 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
After taking in the Bioneers Conference (Promotes green, social justice and human rights) we headed to the streets of Houston for adventure. As my husband and I made our way from site to site, we ran into three bewildered teenage girls. "Do you know where Sam Houston Park is?" Aren't those cell phone GPS's grand? A few key strokes later, we pointed them in the right direction. But before they left we asked for their story. Short version-they were attending a fund raising event to end world poverty. I could feel my interest rising.
We strolled around for a bit and found ourselves at the Sam Houston Park entrance. Hundreds walked the grounds. It was open to the public so without a clue we entered into what would be for me, one of the greatest educations of my life.
Who were these people? Either from India or Pakistan. Maybe they weren't Indians. These people were more Pakistanis, or perhaps Afghanis. We looked out of place and it seemed as if a few people stared at us. Poverty, illness and tragedy are universal and as I talked with people, any concepts of differences I held, dissolved. The people who looked different and distant now looked open and compassionate. One world - one family. We're in this together.
This unique fund raising event engages would-be donars in a compelling way. We went to a sectioned off area. First we entered and then stood in a dark tent. Immediately, we heard a loud noise, smoke pours in. We are in a simulated earthquake. We run. The guide opens the tent door and we emerge on a road with injured people who need help. An injured man asks if anyone is thirsty. Several hands go up and he gives pretend water. We each receive a stick-on colored dots to represent our drinking the water. The guide says, "You've just been contaminated by the water you've ingested. You have to get to the hospital.” The nearest hospital is ten miles. I'm already fighting the tears. It seems so real. The injured have ripped clothes and what looked like real blood on their bodies. They were good actors and appeared desperate and hopeless. I felt desperate for those who meet similar circumstances and never receive help. My throat hurt.
Our roles change, we go to a hospital setting and become medical personnel who operate on injured people (not real people, dummies of sort). We receive tools that can't do the job. We start the operations and if anyone does something to worsen their conditions, a bell rings. It was impossible to do the job with the tools we had. Before long we hear bells ring. We receive proper instruments and find how much easier it is to accomplish our tasks. The organization putting on the fund raiser provides medical supplies to the rural clinics they build. My nose drips. Snort, snort. My heart aches.
We go into class rooms and experience what traditional education is like in these impoverished countries. We sit in a class room covered in graffiti - in austere conditions. The teachers were harsh, dogmatic. Then we go to a classroom like the ones the Aga Khan Foundation (the organization sponsoring the fund-raiser) provides in these countries. Their teaching techniques are innovative and compassion rooted. We sing some of the lessons. We paint part of a tile to represent what we've learned. The tiles are later donated to a business and used to in a commercial building. I painted a little yellow sun.
There were movie theaters in several areas. We lay on the floor of a dome tent and the ceiling was the screen. Face after face, situation after situation, cascaded before us in an unspoken haunting plea for help.
We go to an area that depicts micro finance. We learn of the work conditions of the people. We do some of the work that the people have to do and experience the difficulties they face daily. We see a man (via movie) who builds doors. It takes months to build a door. Then he delivers the door in a small car. He hopes the building will still be there when he arrives. One movie highlighted workers in Tajikistan and the micro financing efforts of Aga Khan in that country. A few days earlier I loaned money though a micro lending program (Kiva) to a woman in Tajikistan. Small world. I felt an inner warm spot.
For birthdays and holidays my husband and I have a tradition of donating money to causes. We don't need any more stuff. His birthday was earlier in the month and we had not made his contribution yet. Now it was an easy decision. We gave to Aga Kahn. I salute the organization for their innovation, service and humanity. http://www.akdn.org/akf
That Saturday I attended the most innovative fundraiser of my life. It was another reminder. We vote with our dollars, time and attitude. We have the daily opportunity to cast votes for justice, equality, compassion and humanity. Don’t forget to cast your vote.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Do you know what's unique about these eggs? They have never been in the refrigerator. Marilyn picked them from her hen house then I took them from her apron. I don't eat too many eggs. I don't support the industry that stuffs sweet little birds in cages and uses them until they drop dead. But these chickens I know and when I say they are free range and organic, they are free range and organic.
Look at the different sizes and colors.
A great breakfast of fresh eggs, raw radish greens and toasted Ezikiel bread topped with flax seed oil, raw apple and fresh ground cinnamon.
It's Friday. Each week slips by so quickly that I wonder if it was there. Eastern philosophy speaks of Maya - illusion - and I wonder if there's any evidence that life even happened this week. Really there's only now.
Addictive behavior is an integral part of our cultural norm. We often live in denial. We believe our behavior is normal and healthy. Normal and healthy are not the same. Much of so‑called normal behavior is really addictive behavior. We think what we grew up with is normal. When everyone is sick, sick becomes normal. One of the lesser‑examined areas of addiction is food addiction. Some authorities believe that over 65 percent of women and 45 percent of men in this country have disordered eating patterns. This is another way to say that our relationship with food is sick.
In years past 50 years, the American diet has dramatically shifted. People turned away from nature and turned to the high‑tech world that touched and changed all areas of human consumption. Demeter and Ceres no longer blessed our crops; instead, the Goddess became a steel‑winged angel spraying poisons on crops. This activity supposedly insured an economically plentiful harvest. We exchanged the loved‑filled chicken of Grandma for the convenience of the Colonel.
Some people believe poor health is a direct result of pesticides and herbicides‑‑ nearly all processed food contains sugar, white flour, fat or salt. I challenge this idea. We are not unhealthy because of the changes in our food production or because of our fast foods. We allowed our food to be mass‑produce, poisoned and lose quality because we were already sick. The sickness of our souls reflected in the sickness in our foods. Sick people grow and eat sick food. People in harmony with themselves grow healthy food and eat healthy food.
People think they can straighten out their lives by embracing healthy foods. A change in diet alone is never sufficient to heal the body. Our diets and eating habits can not be corrected from the outside in ‑‑ they must change from the inside out. As we begin to love ourselves, to appreciate our uniqueness and to accept our dharmic (dharma is structure or form in our lives that most supports our souls) place in the universe, our food regains its place of sacredness in our lives.
American culture embraces a philosophy that pits good foods against bad foods. We turned our foods into demons. The problem with demonizing food or making certain foods bad is that the demons end up biting us on the butt. The age‑old story is told in Genesis: When Adam and Eve were instructed to leave the apples alone; apples became the most desirable fruit in the garden. Remember, they could have eaten anything in the garden except apples, but what did they go for? They made a beeline for the apple tree. Adam and Eve revealed the forbidden fruit syndrome...what you can't have is, what you will want the most.
Can you see why diets that cut out certain foods are likely to eventually fail? I have a friend who tries every new diet on the planet. When she gets ready to go on a new diet, she starts eating more junk food ‑‑ and greater quantities of food. It only takes the anticipation of a diet to spark her binging behavior. Diets are self‑imposed starvation. My friend knows she won't be allowed to eat certain foods, so the forbidden foods became even more appealing. Then she diets tolose the weight gained as a result of going on the diet in the first place.
Grandmother Rosa is a South American born indigenous elder. Her animation captured the spiritually hungry at a medicine gathering in the nineties. Grandmother’s spirit told her to stop making food her enemy. “Love all the food you eat.” It didn't matter whether she ate bean sprouts or chocolate, she was to respect and love it all. Her change in attitude created amazing results. Not only did Grandmother Rosa lose weight, she lost the desire for many foods that didn't support her physical health. There is a big difference between sacrificing and losing desire. When we approach food from a point of sacrifice, we thwart our ability to achieve our goals.
I suggest an alternative to dieting and to believing in food magic (food magic - good food is like magic it will instantly cure everything and make my life work). Love all food you eat. Bless your food before you eat. Spend time each day discovering who you are through prayer, spiritual reading and by being still and listening to inner wisdom voice.
The following prayer is from my book "Offbeat Prayers for the Modern Mystic." I took the prayer that my father and grandfather said and created a contemporary version. Use this prayer or find another creative and expressive form of prayer that will allow you to reestablish a healthy and holy attitude about your food and your life.
Not only are we grateful for this food, but we are grateful to the essence that gave it form. We give thanks to that life force within the food that brings us vitality. May this food become a celebration of the immortality of life itself. May we be ever grateful for all of life's creations.Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies. Bless these bodies to the service of our spirits.
Quantum physics delivered us from victimhood; it reveals that energy affects energy. Our thoughts are energy. Our food is energy. When done in openness, authenticity and humility, prayer is a higher form of energy that affects our lives both physically and emotionally. Bring Spirit into your relationship with food. Don't pray like a beggar. "Please, please, help me help me help me." Don't whine. Bless your food. Bless your relationship to food. Let your trips to the grocery store be spiritual pilgrimages rather than burdensome everyday tasks. When eating out, be a radiant, joy‑filled consumer rather than a holy terror to your server
Recently, when checking out at the grocery, I had one of those quirky inspirations. I made a smiley face out of the fruits and vegetables I placed on the conveyor belt. I told the check out woman, “Look, I made a present for you”. She was delighted and shared her enthusiasm with fellow onlookers. I began to make a practice of honoring my food as I purchased it. Yesterday I made another face. I used broccoli as the hair and used cucumbers as the horns. The check out lady asked if she could disturb it to ring me up! Sometimes I just line up the groceries to look orderly and bless the food as I place it on the conveyor belt. The first time I did this I was particularly prayerful. The man standing behind me said “I like the way you place your groceries, you have a special way.” It never occurred to me that someone would notice what I was doing.
When so much of our day and lives are consumed by eating, planning to eat, shopping for food and cleaning up after we eat, it is important to be in harmony with food. Food is not the demon. The real demons are inside us. Our demons are the rejected and unloved parts of our Self. As soon as we can become the powerful works of spiritual art that we actually are, the demons in our foods disappear. We will no longer need to project our inner pain onto our outer worlds.
I follow the food supplies in grocery stores. I am a food reader. The quality of our restaurants and grocery stores reflects the spiritual qualities of our lives. In the early 70's, I cultured my yogurt or went to the health food store on Thursdays. Dannon yogurt was delivered only one day a week, and if I didn't get there in time, I wouldn't be able to get any yogurt that week. About fifteen years ago, a grocery store opened in my neighborhood. I walked the aisles looking at fresh whole wheat breads without preservatives. Fresh herbs nestled beside organic fruits and vegetables. In fact, the vegetables and fruits made up the largest section of the store. This scene would be the norm in the west, but this store was in Memphis, Tennessee... home of Billy‑Bob and barbecue. I cried in gratitude. I cried because we are blessed by so many choices, because we are changing as a culture. I cried for those who will never see such opulence. I remembered the raging results of hunger and the look of sheer desperation in the faces of the children. I cried with compassion for those who cry lack in the midst of such great abundance, and I rejoiced for all that I had. The grocery stores of today are our new temples. I have some of my greatest visions and deepest spiritual insights in the grocery store.
So now you have it. You have asked for a better way... and here it is. For those who have eyes, let them see, for those who have ears, let them hear and for those who are hungry, let them worship. Food is sacred, it is not our enemy! Give thanks and rejoice.
* This article was originally published in 2003 in several magazines, but since I'm on the food trail - I thought you might enjoy it.
Still no word on the easy front. I am having so much fun with my camera that I'm writing with my pictures. I can say with wild abandon that life is easier when you have fun.
We have lettuce greens, dandilion greens, grape tomatoes and a raw nut cheese made with Brazil nuts, cilantro, lemon and garlic. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want recipe.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Fall is here. Leaves fall and I quietly join the Mother Earth who gives me nourishment. Thank you for this meal.
Add a little coconut. Why do they call it a nut? Great taste and it adds those MUFA's. monounsaturated fatty acids we heard were bad for us. Then we heard they were good for us. All this food good bad flip flop can drive you nuts.
This is funny because when I start posting at the beginning of my process, then the post goes backward to how I prepared my meal. I can't seem to get but one picture to a post so I'll continue backwards. I couldn't even get the picture on the last post.
I am a very good unprofessional blogger. My mantra is practical not perfect. If I wait the get this perfect it, will never be.
Ground nuts and raisins.
I love to eat. I love to prepare food. I feel the abundant nature of everything when I mindfully interact with my food. I do a liquid fast of Wednesdays. It's usually the lemonade fast - lemon, maple syrup, cayenne- but sometimes I drink a little fresh juice.
Thursdays I am ready to eat. So here's a step by step replay of my meal this morning. Above are the ingredients for my morning treat.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I believe in ghosts – mental ghosts. The faint memories of times gone past take away my life and pen me down to a reality that sucks. It sucks the life out of me and I can hear it coming. I feel the clamp close my heart. Vlap! It’s like a heart shade that shuts out the light. I’ll be minding my business and the ghost comes. She cuts me down and I become a pitiful waif – an orphan cut off from familiar ties and comfort zones – a crying babe wanting some attention – some sense of safety.
It is bazaar. Yes, a mind bazaar of horrors – those deep crevices of inner entertainment. It’s better than a Boris Karloff dig. Just dig down and scare the hell out of myself – just blast away those tiny safe spaces and stand naked once again. And the older I get, the more I wish I could stand on solid ground. But the falling becomes flying and the darkness gives way to light and suddenly I’m soaring over the ego - over the entrapment. I’m glad there was no solid ground because I was made to fly, not stand my ground.
The dark night becomes a knight in shining armor and the armor gives way to a peaceful surrender. The white flag waves away the ego “I surrender, I surrender. No more war. I am at peace.” The hunger satisfied, the thirst quenched. I no longer hunt the mental prey that keeps me everywhere but here. The mental drone has lost its way and mind melts and in its place a love of life.
I feel as if I had a jar of fireflies on a shelf and suddenly compassion gave me the wisdom to let them go, to realize that in a jar they could not light the way of lovers and children and saints and in the jar they could not play and be the opening and closing God eyes they were meant to be.
Yes, let freedom ring. May I be the bell-ringer. May I be the one who marches past prison walls and flings open locked doors. May I stand in my heart and give food to the hungry and have the courage to look into pain-filled eyes without recoil – embracing everything.
May I be present without constant internal assessment. May my mind be at rest and may I be tolerant of everyone and rise in a compassion that is so deep that all creation worships at the same alter. May I hear that alter call and alter my thoughts. May my deeds indeed become the helpful hand that takes us to the promised land. Holy and free, sacred and safe I take the first step to here. One step from mind to heart. A men, a women, a mountains, a rivers, a partheid, a mass, a master, a wake, a gain, a men.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
We know that everything can be easier. It's an attitude. But if we want to live ease to the max then it's time to realize that right here, right now, we have to everything we need to know ourselves. Nothing can be easier than knowing who you are. Only when we know ourselves can we sip the wine of ease.
Wake up. No more pettiness of spirit. No more self-righteousness or sense of entitlement. No more poor me, I'm not what I'm meant to be. No more, I am my drama or I am my emotions. It's time to drop the act and become the me I am.
Now is the time to open up to life. Forget the past, forget the dreams if just for one short moment. Try it. I tried fixing my life, planning my life, controlling my life, controlling others' lives. Only when I gave up my plans and focused into the presence of now did any of my doing make sense. Only when I rested my mind did my work bring peace with it. I began to work from peace rather than doing things so I could find peace.
Whenever I remember – when awareness dawns - I drop my line of thinking. Most lines of thinking are old worn out repeats of the past. I listen to my breath, feel my feet, and expand my awareness to my surrounding. I check out my body sensations – no judgments, no trying to process feelings or make them go away. I just become present and sink into presence. I do this dozens a time a day. And that makes my life easier and easier. This is how I drop the drama. The drama is my mind.